Red Cabbage, Pinto Bean, and Tahini Slaw

Have you been sitting around wishing you had more recipes for mayonnaise-less cole slaw? Alternatively, have you been thinking that everything would be better if it was socially acceptable to eat a big Tupperware full of cole slaw for lunch? No? I’m the only person around holding both those thoughts in her head at once? Weird.

Here’s why it’s worth spending your spare time pondering both of those questions: If you could magically get rid of the mayonnaise in cole slaw, you could, I would argue, have the perfect lunch time salad. After all, cabbage holds up to dressing over the long-term, better than almost anything else. If you want it to taste like cole saw, you practically have to let it sit in its dressing for a while (maybe even a week). If that dressing were actually healthy, and not just mayonnaise-filled goop, you would be well on your way to a guilt free lunch you could make on Sunday  night and dump into your Tupperware on the way out the door every morning. If you added some beans for protein, it might even be perfect.


I have been tinkering with this salad for three summers now. The cabbage has gotten progressively more thinly sliced, although not obsessively so. It has lost the cheese I once put in it, which also makes this a vegan lunch! I think it is now the right balance of creamy, crunchy, and filling to make a great lunch, but it also would not be out of place as a side at a barbecue. It is also, notably, incredibly easy to make. Just slice your cabbage, drain your beans, chop your parsley, whisk together some tahini and lemon juice, and you are in business. It’s so simple that, with my initial quandaries answered, I have spent all week debating why it took me so long to get the formula exactly right.

Red Cabbage, Pinto Bean, and Tahini Slaw

– 1 small red cabbage

– 1 can pinto beans (You could probably sub chickpeas, but I think that pinto beans have a nicely creamy texture to match the dressing.)

– 3 tablespoons chopped parsley (or more to taste)

– 1/4 cup tahini

– 1/4 cup lemon juice

– Salt to taste

* Drain and rinse pinto beans.

* Finely slice cabbage.

* Whisk together tahini and lemon juice.

* In large bowl mix together beans, cabbage, parsley, and tahini-lemon juice combination. Salt to taste.

I find that if I’m going to eat this over the course of a week for a lunch, it perks up a bit if I sprinkle a little extra olive oil, lemon juice, and salt on it right before I eat it.


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